Optimism, exuberance and advance: that’s Art Deco.

Between the 1920’s (The Roaring Twenties) and the 1940’s (the war years) Art Deco influenced art, architecture, jewellery, clothing, ceramics, music and dance.

The dawn of the ‘new’ age was represented in sunburst and fountain motifs.  Skyscraper, or ziggurat shapes symbolised the promising advancement of the 20th Century, and geometric shapes represented machinery.

A sunburst motif

Images of women celebrated women’s new found freedom and automobiles and aeroplanes, more than machines, became symbols of speed and power.  Meanwhile, in the conservatory, palms became fashionable as did all things Egyptian.


The Art Deco festival in Napier regenerates this burst of energy over three brilliant days in February.  No Vacancy signs hang outside every hotel and motel, the camp ground is crowded with tents and vans, and a convoy of mobile homes park on the Marine Parade making a four lane highway.  The city is uncomfortably congested.  But it’s all good.


The city of Napier and nearby Hastings are the perfect backdrop for the Art Deco Festival.  In 1931 the original towns were levelled by a severe earthquake and much of what had been left standing fuelled a ravenous fire.  Yet out of the rubble and ashes Napier and Hastings were rebuilt in hopeful Art Deco style.


Missing from the Art Deco Festival this year was Dilmah Tea.  The Fernando family have supported Art Deco weekend for as long as I can remember.  But not this year.  Thankfully I got a photo of Mr Merril J. Fernando in the Dilmah Tea Tent in 2017 and ever since then I have dreamed of interviewing the patriarch of Dilmah tea.  Basically my plan was to accost him in the Dilmah Tea Lounge, ask a few lighthearted questions, get a couple of photos and presto – this weeks post!  Impressed?  Me neither.


There were many, many teasets on display in the picnic marquees  – everyone in New Zealand has a fancy tea set it would seem.  All in all it was a disappointing occassion for the actual tea though.  The majority of these teasets functioned as props only.  Few teasets were given a real part to play and I thought that rather a shame.


Bring back the Dilmah tea events – that’s what I say!




4 replies on “Art Deco: Optimism, Exuberance and Advance

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